Insurance companies’ proposed increase averaging 42.2 percent for North Carolina homeowners has been rejected and will be negotiated.
The move by Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey is not a surprise. He signaled his intention at the Council of State meeting early Tuesday and later issued a release with an explanation. He also set a hearing for Oct. 7.
“I haven’t seen the evidence to justify such a drastic rate increase on North Carolina consumers,” Commissioner Causey said. “The Department of Insurance has received more than 24,000 emailed comments on this proposal, with hundreds more policyholders commenting by mail. Scores more consumers spoke during a public comment forum. North Carolina consumers deserve a more thorough review of this proposal. I intend to make sure they get that review.”
The request filed Jan. 3 to Causey’s office by the North Carolina Rate Bureau included an average of 71.4 percent in the coastal areas of Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties.
The prospects for acceptance were always minimal. For example, the Rate Bureau got about one-third of its ask back in November 2020. That’s when the pitch totaled an overall average increase of 24.5 percent. Causey, the first Republican insurance commissioner in state history, won a second term that month and negotiated an escalation of 7.9 percent.
If the Department of Insurance doesn’t agree with the requested rates, a release says, “the rates will either be denied or negotiated with the North Carolina Rate Bureau. If a settlement cannot be reached within 50 days, the commissioner will call for a hearing.”
In roughly a month since opening the comment period, Causey said it was hard to find anyone agreeing with the increases among some 25,000 respondents.
“Homeowners were shocked with the high amount requested by the insurance companies, and so was I,” Causey said.
The biggest increases are along the coast. Beach areas with requested rate increases of 99 percent or higher are in Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties – essentially from the midpoint of the coast to the South Carolina border. Farther north toward the Outer Banks, the beach areas of Currituck, Dare and Hyde counties have an increase rate ask of 45.1 percent.
Coastal areas of Beaufort, Camden, Chowan, Craven, Jones, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrell and Washington counties have a proposal of 25.6 percent.
Eastern North Carolina counties encompassing Greenville and Goldsboro were among those at 57.8 percent. Cumberland (Fayetteville) and Sampson (Clinton) were each 45.5 percent, while neighbors Bladen (Elizabethtown) and Robeson (Lumberton) were 56.1 percent.
Among the major metros the city of Charlotte and counties of Alexander, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Stanly, Wilkes and Union have a proposed increase of 41.3 percent; the cities of Durham and Raleigh and counties of Durham and Wake have requests for 39.8 percent increases; the cities of Greensboro and Winston-Salem and counties of Alamance, Davie, Caswell, Forsyth, Guilford, Rockingham, Stokes and Surry are proposed to go up 36.6 percent.
The smallest increase of 4.3 percent is in the mountain counties of Haywood, Madison, Swain and Transylvania. Asheville (Buncombe) and Boone (Watauga) are within 11 counties where the increased request is 20.5 percent.